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The Daily Rundown

NBC's Chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd discusses the day's top political stories.




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Biden 22, Florida 14, Clinton 12, Weinberg 10, Washington 7, Glenn 6, Us 5, Obama 5, Spiriva 5, Bill Clinton 5, U.s. 4, Fbi 4, Jacksonville 4, America 4, Geico 4, North Florida 4, Syria 4, Weatherford 4, Kentucky 4, Jeh Johnson 3,
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  MSNBC    The Daily Rundown    NBC's Chief White House correspondent Chuck  
   Todd discusses the day's top political stories.  

    February 28, 2014
    6:00 - 7:01am PST  

>> complicated, and even dr. brzezinski said it's complicated. >> it's complicated. >> if it's way too early, what time is it? >> it's "morning joe." but, thomas, what happens to "morning joe"? >> "the daily rundown" with chuck todd. >> have a good weekend. god bless you. >> just a reminder, former singer of orleans, a member of congress. security check. an exclusive interview with homeland security jeh johnson on the likelihood of lone wolf attacks, the consequences of changing drug laws, plus a lot more. and with "american hustle" in the mix for sunday's oscar extravaganza, a behind-the-scenes look at the real abscam, real american hustle, and what some of the central players think decades later. also on today's tdr, find out how someone pushing for a pardon almost got a seat at the table with president obama with
a secret check at the urging of someone inside the president's political team. good morning from washington. it's friday, february 28th, 2014. and this is the "the daily rundown." we're also going to round out our tdr 50 week on florida with a look at some of the rising political stars on each side of the aisle in the sunshine state. so a packed show. let me get to the first reads of the morning. if you want to know how the clintons plan to campaign in 2014 and lay the groundwork for 2016, we hope you were paying attention this week, because i think we got the best glimpse yet of the clinton apparatus in action. another way to put it, the clintons got the band back together. hillary clinton dipped her toes into policy debates from health care to venezuela and cuba. as well as arizona's anti-gay law. bill clinton kicked off his campaign to become the 2014 campaign serkt's mvp, and democratic outside groups that are already lining up behind a clinton presidential bid punched back aggressively in her defense. so let's start with wednesday.
hillary clinton was a bit could i r -- coy about her future. >> can you give us some insight in your tbd in your bio will play out? >> well, i'd really like to, but i have no characters left. i will certainly ponder that. >> but what was clear in that speech and in those remarks is clinton has become a full participant in the invisible primary. she made her most extended defense, for instance, of the health care law. >> -- you insure your car. why? because you don't want something bad to happen to it, so insure yourself because, you know, you don't know whether something bad could happen to you. >> but earlier that same day, she did strike a note of caution on health care, saying this, quote, i think we're on the right track in many respects, but i would be the first to say if things aren't working, then we need people of good faith to come together and make evidence-based changes.
now, republicans jumped on those comments by hillary clinton, but you should know she really didn't say anything different than what we've heard from president obama on fixes to the law. take a listen to this obama excerpt. >> -- in terms of winning back the confidence of the american people is just to work as hard as i can, identify the problems that we've got, make sure that we're fixing them, we're just going about to keep on chipping away at this until the job is done. >> almost word-for-word if you notice there. stumping for senate candidate ga games in kentucky, bill clinton proved he is the consummate campaigner, potentially an asset for red state democrats, but no one from vulnerable democrats to his wife's emerging campaign should expect him to fully stay on script. >> well, i'm not running for anything, and i can tell you exactly what i think. and since i'm not in office, you can ignore it. [ laughter ]
although sometimes when i was in office, i thought people were ignoring it. >> what he did in kentucky is he took on the health care issue head on in a state where the law is far from popular. >> you know what, in a sane environment people do when they have problems with a good objective, they fix the problems. in the end, that's really what alison is telling you, send me to washington, i'll do something that makes sense, and if there's a problem with it, i'll fix it. >> and today, in the latest sign the clinton machine is revving up, the most aggressive outside group supporting hillary clinton these days -- american bridge -- has released its first web ad defending her. the target? kentucky senator rand paul who's revived attacks on the clintons, in particular bill clinton, over the monica lewinsky affair. its message? paul is obsessed with the '90s. >> rand paul is out there, he's banging on the clintons every
day. now, what's his strategy? >> well, i'm not certain he has a strategy. >> there's a lot of things going on right now that we need to be concerned about other than what happened 15 years ago. >> the record is what will be judged upon. >> it's not a long-term winning strategy for republicans. let's all go back and dance the macarena and talk about 1998. ♪ >> by the way, given that paul has called bill clinton a sexual predator, this rebuke of former rocker ted nugent and warning to conservatives yesterday was perhaps, to some, a little rich. >> there are times when people are using language that shouldn't be used, and i recently criticized someone for using that language, and i'm not going to bring it up. i will say we can disagree with the president without calling him names. there are people out in the public that are taking away from our message, so let's try not to be a part of that. >> today, the clinton presidential library will release its first batch of the 33,000 records that were
withheld under legal provisions, and that expired, the provisions had expired last year. here's what we think we know about some of these documents. they're mostly policy memos, some political memos, all written to then-president bill clinton by various administration officials. our understanding is because they were written memos, they're somewhat sanitized and won't be containing maybe big news or revelations that some are hoping they will contain. we'll see. and let's say, though, you're looking over -- to pore over members that elena kagan might have sent bill clinton when she was working in his counsel's office. we're going to have to wait to find out about all of that later today. but we are told there is a lot of kagan paper, and that's something that she was lacking, considering that she did not have a judicial background when she was up for the supreme court bid. the guy who may be watching the clinton machine with the most attention these days, and frankly consternation, is vice president joe biden. you may want to call biden the rodney dangerfield of the
democratic party. he's not gettin' much respect these days. this week, biden was everywhere, rubbing shoulders with the republican governors, urging democrats to stop apologizing and got on auf in 2014, calling voter i.d. laws lingering hatred, and more than hinting about his own 2016 aspirations and what was quite the media blitz. >> well, you know, i was planning on making a major announcement tonight -- [ cheers ] -- but i decided tonight's your night. >> thank you. thank you. >> so i hope you'll invite me back. >> you haven't said no? >> no, i absolutely have not said no. it's likely i run as i don't run. i truly haven't made up my mind. >> at every turn, there's evidence that hillary clinton is standing in the way of any white house aspirations that joe biden still has, and frankly has had for three decades. according to a "the new york times"/cbs poll, 82% of democrats said they'd like to see clinton run in 2016, 40
points higher than the number of democrats who want biden to get into the race. >> you have said that if she runs for president, you will not run. >> no, i haven't. no. >> oh. >> i think my knowledge of foreign policy, my engagement with world leaders, my experience is uniquely positions me to be -- to follow through on the agenda barack and i have. whether she runs or not will not affect my decision. >> in a cover story for "politico" magazine, glenn thrush paints a picture of biden's picture. one member of president obama's administration is quoted, he's in a predicament. it's so big, it's almost literary. never in his entire life has this man been better positioned to get the thing he most wants, the presidency. he's climbed almost all the way to the top, and guess what, somebody moved the ladder. biden believes he has done everything asked of him. the jog around the white house, in a video to boost the first lady's program let's move.
very cute video, to be hon e. nothing frustrates biden more on the 2016 front than when it comes to foreign or economic policy, he believes he's much nor in tuned with where today's democratic party is than the clintons'. biden and clinton were regularly on the opposite side of the foreign policy debates with biden usually falling on the side of less force or smaller military footprints, where the democratic party is. he gets no respect in the west wing or from national democrats who insist on thinking of him as fun uncle joe prone to bidenisms like this one on tuesday on sacramento mayor and former nba star kevin johnson. >> and told the president next game i have him, just remember i may be a white boy, but i can jump. >> there's no love lost between biden and the president's political team. biden is especially burdened by the fact that after being
assured that the democratic super pac priorities usa would stay neutral, jim messina made it clear they were getting on the hillary clinton bandwagon. -- the lack of discipline or the fact that being vice president is, in a sense, a recipe for being rodney dangerfield. it's that the democratic party is unlikely perhaps to nominate or to rally around a white male presidential candidate, perhaps for quite sometime. so let's talk a little bit more about this clinton-biden issue. joining me is msnbc contributor and former white house press secretary for president obama, robert gibbs, and tracey sefle who serves as an advisor to ready for hillary. i'm not saying you're being put on the side of biden here, but what was your -- what do you make of where biden's standing is? i thought that anonymous quote said it all, right? here's a guy who's gotten as close to the brass ring as he's ever gotten before, and then suddenly, the representing apparently has disappeared. >> right.
and i thought it was a remarkably well-written piece by glenn. glenn is not used to me saying something like that. so, glenn -- >> i thought he captured what was actually going on with biden in many ways. >> almost perfectly. and i think you see biden as -- biden is the happy warrior. biden loves what he's doing and he doesn't want to stop. i don't think it's a stretch to believe, as he was telling "the view" that he might continue to want to do it, even if somebody else named hillary clinton runs. i think -- and you touched on this in the intro, and i watched a few of the fights happen in the situation room, i do think you will see what you talked about in terms of the use of force, smaller footprints, more soldiers or fewer soldiers in combat zones, that could certainly play out in a way that probably has biden closer, as you said, to where the democratic base is. >> tracy, i am curious what you think obviously secretary clinton seems to be -- i feel
like dipping the toe more and more, talking a little more about domestic policy at these public events. do you think she needs to make it clear, so the contrast i just painted between clinton and biden on ideology in many ways gets blurred a little bit? >> well, i'll start by echoing what robert said that i, too, thought it was a really well-done piece by glenn. let's all be in agreement about that. >> glenn's now probably wondering, what did i do wrong? >> he certainly made compelling points about what potential contrasts there, but there frankly are so many similarities between the two, as well. one of my favorite parts of the article, and back to glenn, sorry here, i did like the photos the best, i have to say. i thought the photos in that story told one of the most powerful comparison messages that's out there, because these are two people who have a very deep, very warm friendship. >> right. >> and that's an important reality when we talk about a potential dynamic here. that there's no animosity or
acrimonyny. >> it's interesting in many ways, and, robert, you know this, biden was the go-between sometimes between president obama at first and hillary clinton, when they didn't have much of a personal relationship. >> right. >> because the long relationship was between those two. eventually, hillary clinton and president obama did develop a bond. but it took a while, right? >> it did. and i think vice president biden, as you said, sort of had an independent relationship with both of them. and could help bridge and could help discuss a lot of this stuff. i mean, it does in many ways remind me of -- not that the outcome, predicting the outcome to be the same, but in 2007 and 2008 there weren't deep ideological disagreements. there were some pollty disagreements -- policy disagreements, and what that means is when you have a nominee, regardless of the breadth or the depth of the primary, it's much easier to put a coalition back together, i think what you see -- you will see on the republican side is something that's much more deeply ideological, right? somebody who will occupy the
sort of more right than somebody -- >> you don't think we'll see an ideological primary? >> hmm-mm. >> do you? >> it's hard to imagine. >> oddly kind of amazing, is it not? >> well, it's certainly going to be a striking contrast to what is going to happen on the other side. and regardless, whatever the field nets out to be, it is worth noting that there is -- across either party, the candidate that has the deepest and most aggressive and excited support is hillary clinton. >> and yet she -- and ideologically, that's the argument biden wants to make, she's not in tune, and she's going to try to make that -- get rid of that. >> here's the biggest challenge, though, for all of poll numbers, do you want to run, do you not want to run, where are you thought? this nominee will be decided by who puts forward a series of ideas that gets the base and independents that lean to the democratic party excited about
what the next four to eight years are. it is not going to be who is the best secretary of state. who was the best u.s. senator. who was the best -- >> that may be biden's problem, is he's having to defend the past. >> i do think what will be -- it will be interesting, again. it will be a primary -- it should be a primary of passionate ideas. >> all right. robert gibbs, tracy sefl, we'll leave it there. we have developing news before i go to break. the deposed ukrainian president viktor yanukovych is holding a defiant news conference right now from russia. it's his first since fleeing kiev. these are live pictures of yanukovych. so far, he has denied he ever ordered the police to shoot at protesters. he also said he plans to return to ukraine once his safety is guaranteed, and he insists he still is the will he glegitimat president. we'll have more on this on tdr. my name is jenny, and i quit smoking with chantix.
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well, we're wrapping up the first week of the tdr 50 with our focus on florida, and with each state's spotlight, we want to leave you with some names you may not know but ones that you should. we've talked to the reporters and experts we've had on this week to get their picks and then narrowed them down. keep in mind, we're not looking for big-name candidates this cycle. we're looking at people who will likely be the big names a few years down the road, the ones running for governor and senator in 2016 and 2018. we'll start with the republican-rising stars. adam putnam is the current florida agricultural commissioner. before that, though, he was a five-term member of congress, a great reputation among his colleagues. people were genuinely disappointed when he left, believing he was on a fast track for a leadership position in washington. but putnam decided he wanted a
career in florida, not washington. long story short, no matter what happens this year in the governor's race, putnam is probably the front-runner right now to be the gop nominee for governor in 2018. next up, on the republican side, will weatherford, florida state representative, currently the state speaker of the house. the position has had a pretty good history. remember, marco rubio went from state speaker six years ago to the u.s. senate. weatherford hasn't been afraid to take on power players in his own party or big donors. he's been able to keep distant from governor scott, and he took on the owner of the dolphins in that whole issue of trying to build a new dolphins stadium. pam bondy is a favorite of the florida conservatives, currently the state attorney general. the first woman to hold the position in florida history. if marco rubio opts either for a presidential run in 2016 or not to seek another term, expect bondy to be the early republican front runner for that republican seat, or whatever senate seat comes after bill nelson retires. turning to the democrats.
the big star we hear the most is alvin brown. he's the current mayor of jacksonville. he's a rare type of politician. north florida democrat. when brown was elected in 2011, he became jacksonville's first democratic mayor in 20 years, first african mayor in city history, and you did it by winning support from the republicans in the business community. warden getting a reputation for working across party lines. who knows? maybe he runs on charlie crist's ticket, or alone in 2018. next up, gwen graham, running for congress in florida's 2nd district, a north florida seat. for that reason, she'll have a tough time to win that seat. but if she does and then expect her as somebody with her own famous family name, of course, the daughter of former governor and florida senator bob graham. if she can win that seat, she'll have the best of both worlds, a seat in north florida, along with our dad's south florida
roots, and the state i.d., and may become the front-runner for the senate seat in 2016. and val demmings, currently running for mayor of orange county, there on the i-4 corridor. she was a social worker who joined the orlando police force, worked her way up to cheese. she ran for congress from florida's 10th district in 2012, lost a close race. so there you have it. three ds, three rs to look at. and with me to discuss these three rising stars is joy reed, and before she came to us, she was a columnist, i first started to get to know her had she was writing columns for "the miami herald. "they're our rising stars. break them down for us, joy. of the democrats, who do you think will make the biggest splash first? >> i think of the democrats, brown is interesting because of where he is. so jacksonville, where we've had a lot of controversy over court cases, that is actually where
the prosecutor in the trayvon martin case came from, the special prosecutor, and it's also where we just had the jordan davis case. so jacksonville has been a lot in the news. it's an interesting mix of north florida and kind of the politics that are across that state. and brown won in -- he came in second in a six-man runoff, and he actually got that seat by appealing to republicans who didn't want to vote for the tea party alternative. so he's got a little bipartisan kred. he was in the clinton administration, so the backing of the clintonistas. and gwen graham is already. bob graham, beloved in the state. she's trading on the family name. and then val demmings, because there isn't a huge bench of african-american potential sort of candidates that could elevate to the statewide position, but orange county, you understand, right, through the i-4 corridor, orlando becoming very important in statewide elections. she's got an uphill battle. it's two women running, the
sitting mayor of orange county is a demmings, but won big against webster. still someone to watch. >> on the republican side, of those three, which one do you expect to hit stardom first? >> well, i think the two that i think are the most interesting are pam bondi, obviously, because she did have that moment of sort of national fame. she was an analyst for fox news. actually used to be on scarborough country, and the profile, a woman, republicans need to elevate women candidates. but the other one is will weatherford. will weatherford saying he's had this epiphany on poverty and is almost taking the rand paul approach, a version of reach out, compassionate conservativism, saying he'd be behind an idea of tuition breaks for the children of undocumented immigrants. what is interesting about that list you gave, no latino all-stars. >> not yet. >> yeah, not yet. >> and a lot -- and not a lot of south florida. >> and not a lot of south florida. >> it's tough to run statewide
from south florida. >> it is. >> it's still a handicap for those. joy, i'm going to leave it there. >> thanks. >> so glad you had fun with that, as well with me. >> indeed. >> remember, tune in to joy's new show, it's great, the "reid report" right here on msnbc. we're all very excited she has her own hour now. thank you, joy. money matters. what forced organizing for action to fire a fund-raiser and return a $100,000 check? we'll give you the details after the break. first, today's trivia question. how many teams in florida's grapefruit league play their regular season home games in places with neither a democratic nor a republican governor? i know. this is a weird one. hey guys! sorry we're late. did you run into traffic? no, just had to stop by the house to grab a few things. you stopped by the house? uh-huh. yea. alright, whenever you get your stuff, run upstairs, get cleaned up for dinner. you leave the house in good shape? yea. yea, of course. ♪ [ sportscaster talking on tv ] last-second field go--
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as you know, we've covered the influence of pacs, super
pacs, leadership pacs on election, but there's a new mechanism helping to bank roll the coming midterms. how transparent is it? nbc's michael isikoff has this "the daily rundown" special report. >> reporter: president obama is rallying supporters and raising big money, speaking tuesday night for organizing for action, or ofa, a political advocacy group promoting his agenda. >> it's a year of akd, so i'm not going to wait. >> this is a very good thing for us. >> reporter: ofa is one of a new breed of political nonprofits pouring money into the 2014 election cycle and changing the way campaigns are waged. they operate outside strict rules on how much and who gives. obama's former campaign manager, jim messina, who chairs ofa, has pledged his group will be transparent. >> we're going to disclose all of our donors over $250. >> reporter: but there are new questions this week about the handling of this $100,000 check
from a new jersey doctor who was seeking a presidential pardon, according to documents and e-mails obtained by nbc news. the doctor last december applied for the pardon for a 1991 felony conviction, expressing remorse for heading a corrupt company that ripped off medicare for millions of dollars. three weeks ago, with this pardon request pending at the justice department, he sent in a $100,000 check to ofa for an intimate dinner with obama tuesday night. it's $25,000 per person to attend and those who raise or write $100,000, there will be a small clutch with the president, reads this e-mail, from an ofa fund-raiser, offering a prospective donor the chance to meet obama. ofa at first returned the doctor's check, and then they asked that it be sent back to the same ofa address in chicago, only this time made out to one of our partner organizations, america votes, another political
nonprofit that does not disclose its contributors. in other words, a switch that would keep the doctor's cash secret. >> what they've done here is create a shell game that really, i think, gives lie to the notion that they're committed to transparency. >> reporter: he was not at tuesday night's dinner, barred from the guest list after the felony conviction was flagged. he declined comment. after receiving inquiries from nbc news, ofa said this week it had returned the doctor's check without forwarding it to america voting and that maltsman had been dismissed. we reached out to samantha maltsman and she didn't respond. we got this statement yesterday from a -- from the communications director of ofa, katie hogan. we hold ourselves to the highest standards. in this case, we fell short. while we did not accept the donation in question and while we did not provide any benefit to anyone in exchange for a donation, we take seriously how we present ourselves as a
grassroots policy advocacy organization, so we have taken the necessary steps to address this situation and will build on this experience to assure it will not be repeated. >> but, mike, there's more to this story. the bundler that brought this pardon -- the pardon-seeker to here actually almost -- appar t apparently did some work -- had access to the white house -- >> exactly. this check from the pardon-seeker came in from a bundler in new jersey, kazmir, who's actually a chris christie guy, a republican bundler. but he had his own problems with the government. he's being sued by a federal agency, opec, over $2.5 million loan. he gets -- he approaches john carson, the executive director of ofa, talks about -- >> former white house official. >> former white house official himself. carson sets him up in a meeting with a white house official, the
chief of staff of his former office. look, there's no evidence anything came of it. in fact, the white house says that, you know, abraham, the white house official, extricated himself. but it does raise questions, when you set up a group like this -- >> the access. >> -- people are going to come, a magnet for people seeking favors from the government. >> seeking access. michael isikoff, great reporting. good work, sir. thank you very much. up next, the academy awards are two days away. we'll take a "deep dive" into the true story behind "american hustle," the sting operation that took down a senator and a handful of congressmen, and caught up with a lot of the key players back then. you're watching "the daily rundown" only on msnbc. ♪ turn around, barry ♪ i finally found the right snack ♪ [ female announcer ] fiber one.
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filmmaker's disclaimer that, quote, some of this actually happened. it is loosely based on a real american hustle. it's an fbi sting called abscam. >> you got any other questions? >> i think the name of the operation is offensive. what, abscam, arab scam, it's racist. >> what do you care, you're mexican. >> the operation got under way in 1978 and it sent shock waves across capitol hill when it finally went public two years later. >> a cover for the biggest political scandal to hit washington since watergate. grand juries in four cities soon will begin hearing evidence in a bribery scandal that involves eight members of congress and at least 20 other public officials. >> it was the first made-for-tv scandal, politicians caught on surveillance tapes, taking thousands of dollars in bribes from phony arab sheiks. at the heart of it is the man
depicted by christian bale. >> like the veet congress man, right, i'm in and out, i was there the whole time. you don't know it. to become somebody who can pin their beliefs and their dreams on. >> bale, of course, played the character irving rosenfeld. it's loosely based on the actual mastermind of abscam, a bronx born con man. we caught up with mel weinberg, who is now retired in florida. how did you become a confidence man? >> oh, it was easy. you know how to make a buck, i see what was going on back in them days, and everybody was charging people points to get a construction loan or permanent mortgage. >> so weinberg created a sham investment firm, bilking clients out of thousands of dollars in fees for loans that would never be approved. he was indicted in 1977 after one of his clients went to the fbi. but instead of going to jail,
weinberg became a paid fbi informant. we go up there, and there's about 12 agents there, and i went nose to nose with them. by 11:00, said i'm going back to miami, you don't need me no more. you got 'em eating out of their hands, and that's how abscam was formed. i made a deal. >> at first, the fbi went after white collar criminals, but soon they set their sights on politicians. some in the department of justice figured they could smoke out corrupt lawmakers instead of waiting for them to commit the crimes. so they would entice them into doing something illegal. they got their chance after weinberg met camden new jersey mayor angelo aricett imt, the basis for jeremy roemer's character. now, he and a philadelphia lawyer served as middlemen. they introduced weinberg and the
fbi agents posing as the sheiks and representatives to unsuspecting members of congress. the surveillance tape shows the fbi urging crieden to arrange a second meeting with new jersey congressman frank thompson. after he turned down the money the first time. >> arrange another meeting where he's going to acknowledge the fact he's getting it, where i give it to him? >> you want him to come back with me, just pick up the envelope, and hand it to him? >> yeah, all right. >> without any discussion of any kind? >> why not? >> thompson returned for a second meeting. >> okay, frank understands the situation. >> okay. i mean -- you know, i just want to make sure that, you know, you understand there's the briefcase and -- >> you look at that for me, will you? >> okay. >> one by one, congressmen were offered payouts for political favors, typically around $50,000
each, a total nearly equal to their annual salary at the time. and one by one, many of them took the bait. but the defense said weinberg was going too far, coaching the politicians on what to say in order to get the most incriminating statements on tape. and that's where you enter in a young eric holder. he was actually recruited to try and keep weinberg on the straight and narrow. there was a concern that the these -- that these prosecutions would get blown up and make it look like entrapment. in fact, the u.s. attorney of new jersey at the time told me that all of that help from the justice department didn't work to control weinberg. >> weinberg invented criminal events that wouldn't have existed had he not invented them. so all of these people were taken before a camera, and probably all of them told what to say by weinberg. >> nevertheless, the operation went forward, and when abscam broke in 1980, the tapes shocked
an already scandal-weary public, remember after watergate, a few years removed from vietnam. richard kelly was seen stuffing wads of cash into his suit pockets, and then you have congressman michael ozzie myers of philadelphia, the one that uttered the infamous words -- >> you're going about it the right way. i'm going to tell you something else, money talks in this business and [ bleep ] works the same way down in washington. >> well, despite the tapes, many of the men trapped in the abscam sting insisted they did nothing wrong. meyers himself said the whole thing was an act at the time. >> i look terrible in the tapes. i'm very ashamed of my performance on tape. but i know it's play-acting. anyone that knows me realizes that it's play-acting. >> i have violated no law, no trust, received no money at any time illegally. >> as i said earlier, completely
exonerated. >> i was surprised and shocked to find my name being with others mentioned for any wrongdoing. i know of no wrongdoing that i have done or the congressional office that i serve in. >> of the 31 targeted officials, seven were ultimately brought down. one, a democratic senator, and six members of congress, they were tried and convicted of bribery and conspiracy in separate trials in 1981. but upon looking back, del tufo called the whole operation unsavory. >> the politicians disgraced themselves by going before the camera, but the justice department disgraced itself, as well. they didn't control this investigation, and they let weinberg run rampant on it. >> unbelievable story, you didn't need to fictionalize the movie. you really could have just told the story. anyway, my exclusive interview with homeland security jeh johnson. he's on the set next. the white house soup of the day. look at this one.
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what's your policy? . well, his name might not be familiar yet, but it should be. he's influenced the nation's counterterrorism policy for years and now is in charge of the nation's security. jeh johnson was sworn in as the fourth secretary of homeland security two days before christmas, and he joins me now fresh off some testimony this week where you made a little bit of news, secretary johnson. good morning to you. >> good morning, chuck. how are you? >> i'm good. i want to start with the terror threat that you talked about the most during your testimony this week in congress, and that is the lone wolf. you said it's beyond just the issue of worrying about al qaeda affiliates, that it's even more narrow than that, and were you talking about the boston bombing. so on this issue of lone wolf, how do you ever secure against a lone wolf without becoming a national security state where you lose some freedoms? >> that's an excellent question,
and as you probably know, i'm a new yorker. i was present on 9/11. and in the first four years, i was in the department of defense, i thought we -- building on progress made in the bush years, did a good job of degrading core al qaeda, as we call it. in about 2009, we saw the rise of the affiliates like the al qaeda in the arabian peninsula, and one of my increasing concerns is the threat you mentioned, threat from lone wolves, those who self-radicalize. i think we have to be vigilant in response to all of these threats. i think with regard to lone wolves, it's working with state and local law enforcement, first responders. but you're right. we cannot become a police state. so being homeland security secretary is a balance between security and preserving what makes this nation great and our values. >> it seems to me that in order to stop a self-readicalization,
there's infiltration with the fbi, and not going to say exactly what you do, but a lot of infiltration. how do you do this without violating civil liberties of american citizens? >> there again, that's the critical balance. >> what are your safeguards then? you put in safe -- >> we have fairly sophisticated experienced counterterrorism personnel who know how to identify individuals of suspicion without profiling an entire community, and i think that's critical. would he have to go about this effort in a way that preserves our values, cherishes freedom, cherishes privacy, and cherishes diversity, frankly. and so, in our law enforcement counterterrorism efforts, we strike a balance of identifying individuals of suspicion, who are interested in criminal behavior, as opposed to just espousing beliefs. >> suddenly, the words sound find, but there's a lot of people out there that see the actions, for instance, of the nsa, and say, you know what,
whether it's you, whether it's president obama, you say these things about civil liberties, but when it comes to the folks on the front line, they're not thinking about the civil liberties first. >> well, i think first. >> that's why it's incumbent upon leadership to be fairly visible in reiterating these principles and it's the leadership that is responsible for the policies pursuant to which these operations are governed, and so one of my priorities is to be fairly visible in engaging communities to talk about the balance that we think is so critical. >> another issue that you acknowledged was the issue of syria right now and that the folks fighting assad, some of them are now a national security threat to the united states. is that a direct threat, what is it about them that makes them a threat, and is there something -- is this bad, for instance, as bad as in yemen? >> both we and our european
allies and other governments are very concerned about foreign fighters going into syria and then leaving syria. there are radical extremist elements in syria we are concerned might try to exploit that situation, so together with our european partners and friends, we are working closely to identify individuals who may be in this category and working closely to keep an eye on this situation. >> would it be, considering what we've done in yemen, i assume we're still of the mindset we're going to be aggressive, if we think somebody's going to come after a national security threat to the borders of the united states, we're going to go after -- >> no two situations are identical and no two situations call for a similar response. we are carefully monitoring the situation as it evolves, and we are developing plans, options,
programs, to deal with the situation as it evolves. no two situations are alike. i hesitate to make comparisons. >> i understand that. last question here, homeland security still feels as if it's a department that has a really been able to become cohesive. what is the biggest challenge you feel like that you're facing to make it a more cohesive federal government department? >> you are correct. dhs is a very large and in some respects decentralized organization, much like the department of defense was 11 years after its creation, so i think i tend to be very visible in reminding the workforce, one team, one mission, and homeland security is the most important function that a government can provide to its people. >> i have to leave it there for time, jay johnson, new department of homeland security, long-time lawyer in the first part of the administration,
working with defense secretary robert gates, who had nothing but praise for you, bipartisan praise, difficult to get in this town. see if you can hang in there. >> thank you very much. trivia time, there are two teams in florida's grapefruit league who play regular season home games in places with neither a democratic nor republican governor. toronto blue jays and washington nationals. congratulations to today's winner. we'll be right back. before using her new bank of america credit card, which rewards her for responsibly managing her card balance. before receiving $25 toward her balance each quarter for making more than her minimum payment on time each month. tracey got the bankamericard better balance rewards credit card, which fits nicely with everything else in life
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